An Indelible Feast of Food, Culture and History: A Guest Post from Marcus Samuelsson with Osayi Endolyn, Authors of The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food

Marcus Samuelsson is one of the most recognized chefs today and, as a person of color, has worked hard to expose the culinary traditions of Black Americans which have long been considered as just Southern cooking. Using recipes inspired by some of the greatest Black chefs today, Samuelsson has created a cookbook that is part food, part cultural history and part showcase of culinary talent. Here, Marcus Samuelsson and  Osayi Endolyn discuss their inspiration and offer us a sneak peek at a few of the amazing recipes featured in The Rise

The Rise was created to highlight the incredible talent and journey of Black chefs, culinarians and writers at work today and to show how the stories we tell can help make a more equitable, just industry. I hope this work, and this moment, leads to us raising up Black winemakers, authors and farmers. I hope it leads to us supporting the next generation of Black chefs and hospitality workers who will change our industry forever. And I hope that this movement becomes a part of a permanent and much broader social change.

Doro Wat Rigatoni is my son Zion’s favorite dish. As I’m cooking this, I always think, “Wow, here I am making Ethiopian food for my son and he’s still gumming on graham crackers.” It’s just amazing to me. Zaza (that’s what he calls himself when he is running around the house) is going to grow up to be a herring and mackerel boy, and he will definitely also be a doro wat kid. Maya and I are building our family bond through food.

Weekends in Nyesha Arrington’s childhood home meant chore time. She grew up in Gardena, tucked in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County, in a neighborhood shared by many Korean families. She’d wake to the crescendo of her father’s funk music playlist. They jammed and they cleaned, Arrington and her younger sister moving through the household chore list and her parents, John and Janet, helping out and supervising.

Both of Arrington’s parents are from Los Angeles, but her father’s African American heritage goes back to Mississippi and her mother’s family comes from Korea. Arrington remembers the aroma of fiery, roasted chiles at her maternal grandmother’s home in nearby Inglewood. Arrington named a featured condiment at Native after her — Aisoon sauce, a bright, soy blend made with peppers, scallions, garlic and sesame. At the restaurant, she drizzled it over Wagyu beef tartare. At home, Arrington uses it to top off her one-pot stews made with collard greens or kale, lentils and kimchi jjigae — using over-fermented pickled cabbage that’s a bit too robust to serve as a meal starter but perfect to balance out a rich, soupy dish. Her after-work mash-up is perhaps the best example of her cooking philosophy in which ingredients from different cultures merge to bring out the best in one another.

What better way to celebrate both her African American and Korean heritage than with ribs and pickled greens?

Born in Denver, Colorado, Adrian Miller grew up in Aurora, a suburb just outside of the city. He recalls Saturday mornings in front of the television with his siblings, transfixed by the music and dance on Soul Train, the 1970s definition of cool blackness. Despite the appointment viewing, choir practice at Campbell Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church began at 11 o’clock. Miller’s parents refused to be late, which meant less time watching young folks sporting Afros and the latest moves.

A self-proclaimed recovering lawyer whose interest in politics landed him a role in the Clinton administration, Miller turned his skill for research and narrative toward African American celebration food — the standout dishes curated from generations of agricultural and culinary expertise that followed Black people as they migrated throughout the US during the decades-long Great Migration. Miller’s text is a go-to reference for food enthusiasts. He still attends Campbell Chapel AME, his family church that was established in 1886. Now, it’s his recipe for chorizo blue corn dressing that’s sought after by fellow parishioners.

This one’s for Adrian, in honor of the dressing.

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